​Recycling glass: A beginner's guide

​Recycling glass: A beginner's guide

Posted by The Wares Team on 23rd Nov 2021

With the recent COP summit in Glasgow reaching its conclusion, the focus on the environment is stronger than ever. Climate change is a fact and there are a number of things that we can do to make a positive difference. One of the most important things of all is to reduce, reuse and recycle our everyday goods and to make better purchasing decisions that factor in 'green' manufacturing methods and the ease of recycling.

For example, many plastics are still very difficult to recycle widely and far too many still end up in landfill or in the ocean where they can take decades to break down and fully degrade, damaging wildlife, flora and fauna in the process.

But glass is an ancient and beautiful material that is becoming hugely popular once again because it is so infinitely recyclable. In fact, the glass jars and glass bottles that are currently in use within your home have probably gone through various incarnations beforehand. Let's take a closer look at the possibilities, processes and benefits of glass recycling as we all look to do our bit and protect the planet at this crucial point.

How is glass recycled?

Collecting and sorting
Firstly, glass jars and glass bottles are collected in recycling bins and then taken away to processing centres. At these centres, called mechanical recovery facilities, a conveyor belt with rotating metal discs smashes the glass which falls through small holes onto a vibrating screen. Other materials remain on the belt and are removed to waste. The glass is then hit with air blasts to remove paper, dirt and other debris. It is then crushed and becomes known as 'cullet'.

Processing the glass
The cullet is then ready to be processed and may then be sorted by colour into clear, amber and green categories. It is then sent for further removal of contaminants and to be sized to specific containers. Glass needs to be free of any contaminants before it can be reused, which is why it is important that you clean glass products before placing them in your recycling bin.

Converting mixed glass
The mixed glass is then processed for sorting using optical robots that look for specific colours and automatically assign them to conveyors. The same robotics can size the crushed glass to suit different standards of manufacturing, usually up to 3/4 an inch.

Back into manufacture
This glass can then be placed into a furnace and melted down to create a new raw glass product, mixed with other materials as necessary to suit the specification of the container. Of course, glass can also be recycled to make a wide range of other products too, from milk glass bottles through to glass kitchen worktops!

Facts about glass recycling

Glass can be infinitely recycled without any negative impact to its quality, purity or durability. In fact, glass is the perfect packaging for many products.

By recycling glass you also help to save a huge amount of natural resources. For every tonne recycled, more than one tonne of those precious natural resources are preserved, including soda ash, sand, feldspar and limestone, which are all needed to make new glass. When you choose recycled glass bottles and glass jars, you automatically cut the cost of energy and the associated emissions that come from those production processes. Even better, a tonne of C02 is saved every time six tonnes of recycled glass re-enters the system, making this a truly beneficial loop.

However, not all types of glass can be recycled together. For example, glass bottles and glass jars must be recycled separately from ovenware glass or windows. The entire process for recycling glass is incredibly fast, however, and made even more so by modern robotics. In fact, it now takes around 30 days for a glass product to go into a recycling bin, to be used again in its new recycled lifeform!

There is still room for improvement though. Research suggests that the average British family will use around 500 glass bottles and jars in a year, but will still only recycle around half of these.

Enjoying the best of glass

You'll find a great range of glass products at Wares of Knutsford, most of which will have been recycled. Whether you fancy clear, green, blue or amber bottles and jars, we have them in every size, specification and shape to suit all needs, from glass Kilner jars for storing homemade drinks to blue pharmaceutical-grade bottles to store homemade cosmetics.

See our website for our latest product lines and follow us on social media for all of the latest product releases, news, offers and tips. We also have a regular newsletter which you can sign up for on our website. Our products are competitively priced, our delivery is fast and our customer service is one of our absolutely standout features and just one reason why our customers choose to use us time and time again! Come and discover the Wares of Knutsford difference today.